Proposed “Year of the Marine Top Predator”


Transformational understanding and management of air-breathing marine predators (seabirds and marine mammals) in southern Australia, delivered by a collaborative network of researchers and managers.


Southern Australia is home to the greatest portion of the Australian population, many coastal communities, significant marine industries including fishing, aquaculture, tourism, and oil and gas. South-east Australian waters are among the fastest warming globally, while the Bonney coast and nearby upwelling systems support a range of protected seabird and marine mammal species. This rapidly changing environment, coupled with many relatively little-studied threatened and non-threatened marine top predators in southern Australia (approximately northern NSW to eastern GAB) limits our ability to inform a range of marine managers in diverse sectors. Many species are migratory and do not observe jurisdictional boundaries. A coordinated research effort that builds on the strengths of existing top predator field programs and extends to the under-studied species is needed to provide an update on the status of predator populations and support development of marine indicators and ecosystem models, and deliver to management (industry and conservation) needs.

Potential Scope

This collaborative effort, if developed and supporting funding is available, could have a combination of region-wide comparative projects, new data collection, and specific engagement projects. It could be a focal year, or series of years. The following schematic is indicative of the scope only.



Phase 1 Consulting Committee

Cathy Bulman (CSIRO), Mary-Anne Lea (U. Tas), Alistair Hobday (CSIRO), Rachael Alderman (DPIPWE), John Arnould (Deakin), Peter Dann (PINP), Simon Goldsworthy (SARDI), Rob Harcourt (Macquarie), Eric Woehler (Birdlife Tasmania)

This group will coordinate efforts to assess interest in developing a focused southern Australia research effort across the air-breathing predator species and seek input from researchers and managers to:

  • identify key/joint management and research areas of concern for these species,
  • identify opportunities for multi-party joint research projects,
  • if needed, plan for comparative, engagement and new sampling efforts across the region and species, for a proposed Year of the Top Predator blitz, perhaps for 2019 or 2020


Cathy Bulman or Mary-Anne Lea